More harm than good for Modi

Chinese Job Offer

By Dr D.K.Giri
(Prof. International Politics, JMI)

China offering to help Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make up for his image-deficit just before the General elections may cut both ways. It will boost Modi’s popularity if, suddenly, the opportunity befalls many young Indians to land a job around the polls, or if there is solid sight of it. The potential job seeker, and there are many, will fall for Modi and vote him to victory. The flip side, China confirms that Modi government has not created many jobs as it promised and has dismayed many youth voters, they will take it out on the ruling party in the next elections. So China hand may do more harm than good.
But first where and how was this Chinese offer made. Apparently, it’s via a Chinese State media outlet, Global Times. Its report says: “More than one year after the military standoff in Doklam, which plunged China-India relations to their lowest point in decades, bilateral ties are on the upswing. India has a weak Central government and diverse population. We hope Modi can improve his public standing so that he can consolidate sufficient power to push forward reform and Sino-India economic cooperation as bilateral relations warm up,” the report elaborates.
Modi administration, notes the State media outlet says “needs good news in terms of job growth ahead of the upcoming General election and inviting more Chinese investment will help with that. Encouraging Chinese companies to invest in India’s labour-intensive industries will help achieve this goal, and rapid growth in Chinese investment will help consolidate Modi’s political status before the General election.”
Interestingly, if we decode China’s message to Modi, we will find it is loaded with various meanings and interpretations. In addition to admitting that Modi’s promise of job creation in thousands has fallen flat, it also says the economic strategy was faulty. Two, China created millions of jobs by becoming a manufacturing hub of the world. India could too have with its cheaper labuor force. But India did not focus on attracting more investment on this sector.
Third, in order to attract such investment, the leader has to have tighter control over its people, which Modi did not have. Given the Chinese political culture, this is not unusual for them to suggest control. Bu we are an open and vibrant democracy, we do not like, in principle to control or dominate people.
Fourth, China’s offer to help Modi in the forthcoming elections is clearly interfering in our internal politics, which is objectionable. It is like the Russian President Putin manipulating the US elections in favour of Donald Trump. America is still investigating if that was the case, and if it were true, Trump’s election would be annulled. One is surprised why there has been no reaction from the media and the politicians including those from BJP on such a controversial suggestion made by one of Chinese agencies.
In absence of any reactions from Modi’s team, one is constrained to think if there is any connecting thread from the Prime Minister’s recent attitude towards Beijing and the latter’s offer to Modi for job creation, however, undiplomatically it has been made. Narendra Modi has gone soft on China and is said to be diluting India’s engagement in Quad.
Let us remember that Quad consists of America, India, Japan and Australia. In fact, Quad was strategically conceived as a power block to contain China in the India-Pacific terrain, and Beijing was visibly rattled with such a powerful alliance against it. Remember, Narendra Modi had, only weeks ago, acronymed Japan, America and India axis as JAI — meaning victory. Why then, India refused to engage in joint naval military exercise with Australia?
Modi’s reluctance to go overtly against Beijing is indeed inexplicable. China has been encircling India for quite some time, first by poaching on her neighbours and then by building the Belt and Road Initiative etc. It has been enticing India’s neighbours by giving them generous loans. It is another matter that in the process they were getting indebted.
The latest in the debt trap laid by China is Bhutan. An independent and India-friendly country Bhutan, with little diplomatic contact with China is being roped into the Chinese sphere of influence. That should worry New Delhi. But what is worse, New Delhi seems to be either intimidated by China or induced. In either case, it does no good to India’s growing aspirations for being a regional power.
What baffles me further is New Delhi’s self-induced insecurity when it has quite successfully stitched strategic alliances and partnerships vis-a-vis China. There are two possible reasons for this. One, the long term one is making Pakistan the reference point for our Foreign policy. Pakistan, on multiple counts is not our main rival, does not match us as a competitor or adversary. So, to base our foreign policy on beating Pakistan as a yardstick would be an easier option. In fact, it should have been China all the way. Making China the benchmark of our regional policy would have enhanced India’s growth as an economic and military power.
The second reason is immediate, the unquenchable urge of the incumbent government to win the next General election. For reasons not known, the Modi government, which seemed to have a cake walk in the coming Parliament elections, has suddenly been caught in heavy self-doubt, insecurity, and therefore, seems to hold on to any possibility that can bring the team back to power.
It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss the winnability of the government in the next elections, but what is worth noting is the present government’s desperation which can only explain their non-reaction to the dubious offer made by China.
We all know India can be the manufacturing hub of the world as China’s demographic advantage is going down, the economy is slowing, and India is being seen as a more attractive destination for investors. So do we need Chinese advice and help on it? We will welcome it if they give up their territorial ambitions. New Delhi has to be quite circumspect on this Chinese offer. —INFA